Verfasser: Annika Steiner, Luca Förtsch
The longed-for successor
Norbert Grünhut was born in Lichtenfels on 11 February 1913, the youngest child and only son of the Jewish couple Anna and Salomon Grünhut. He spent his childhood and a large part of his youth in Lichtenfels and lived at what was then Coburger Straße 106.
Norbert attended the secondary school in Lichtenfels. On the first of June 1929, he moved to Nuremberg to complete an apprenticeship as a merchant. From August 1931, he worked in his father's business in Lichtenfels and is likely to have managed it responsibly from April 1933, when his father was first taken into “protective custody” and then relocated to Munich.
Discrimination and oppression during the Nazi era
Already in his school days Norbert experienced rejection because of his Jewish origin, e.g. by unfair grading. After 1933, hatred of Jewish citizens in Germany increased and anti-Semitic measures became more oppressive. The Grünhut family seemed to have been particularly in the focus of the SA. Already in April 1933, Norbert's father was taken into "protective custody" for several weeks after a SA house search under pretextual reasons.
Boycott measures and increasing pressure on customers naturally had a negative effect on the business. Norbert, who was supposed to be his father's successor, saw no prospects in Germany, neither as a businessman nor as a person, and emigrated to New York in March 1936 (a brother of his mother vouched for him there).
New existence in the USA
Initially he worked in a steel mill supplying the U.S. Army. At the outbreak of the war, he volunteered, although he was exempt from military service. But before Norbert could go with his comrades to North Africa to fight Nazi Germany, he injured himself so badly during military training that he lost an eye and was discharged from the Army.
In the early 1940s, Norbert married Charlotte Cohan. The marriage produced Victor, born in 1944, and Anna, born in 1946.
In the postwar period, he worked as a manager for an Italian importer and for a sweater manufacturer. Throughout his life he always kept in touch with his family, who emigrated to the USA after him.
Norbert Grünhut died on April 17, 2004 at the age of 90 and is buried in Danbury, Fairfield, Connecticut.